Former West Bengal Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta said on Thursday that “there is a contradiction” between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s statements on the financial condition of the State and the figures presented in the State Budget.
Ms. Banerjee has claimed that the Centre allocates only Rs.21,000 crore to the State, while the State Government spends Rs.26,000 crore on repayment of loans and interests.
“I detect a self-contradiction within this present State Government, in their different statements on the State’s financial condition…This may have arisen because the statement is incomplete and therefore misleading,” Dr. Dasgupta said.
He said the Budget states that the total receipts of the State Government for 2012-13 are Rs.1,00,366 crore. Ms. Banerjee has repeatedly said that it is only Rs.21,000 crore.
He also pointed out that the receipts from the Centre are not Rs.21,000 crore, but about Rs.42,000 crore.
“Why is the State Government facing problems? Has it incurred any non-Budgetary expenditure,” Dr. Dasgupta asked.
He said that after accounting for the expenditure on payment of interest, loans, salaries and pension, the State Government is still left with a surplus of nearly Rs.34,000 crore.
He also pointed to the decline in small savings across the State, a phenomenon that was partially linked to the proliferation of chit funds.
Whether or not small savings schemes will be popular depends on the attractiveness of the returns as well as the vigilance of the regulatory bodies and the Centre and State governments against the operation of illegal chit funds, he said.
He said the Left Front government had tried to address the menace of illegal chit funds by passing a Bill in the West Bengal Assembly in 2003 which had stringent provisions to deal with any chit fund organisations that cheated their investors.
“The Bill was sent for the assent of the President in December 2010, but I do not know whether the present State government has pursued the matter any further,” he said.